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September 19, 2013

COLTS NOTEBOOK: Colts string of bad luck continues with Allen’s shutdown

INDIANAPOLIS — In the wake of the Cinderella season that the Indianapolis Colts experienced last year, where everything seemingly went right on the field, perhaps what’s been happening to the team over the past few days shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

Maybe it was time for a little bad luck to set in.

How bad?

Since late last week, the Colts have lost three offensive starters for the season — running back Vick Ballard (knee, torn ACL), offensive guard Donald Thomas (quad, torn ligament) and, the most recent, tight end Dwayne Allen (hip).

Ballard was injured in a non-contact drill during practice last Thursday. Thomas was sidelined midway through the first quarter of last Sunday’s home loss to Miami.

It was announced Wednesday afternoon that Allen, who was injured in Indianapolis’ season-opening win over Oakland two weeks ago, would soon be undergoing surgery that would end his season. He was hurt while trying to haul in a third-quarter pass from quarterback Andrew Luck in the Raiders' game, falling awkwardly after being hit by an Oakland defender.

To say that the Colts will be limping into this week’s road game with the San Francisco 49ers might be stretching it a bit. But it is safe to assume that the Indianapolis coaching staff will be busy trying to put together a game plan that will feature a few different parts on offense.

“Like Donald [Thomas], like Vick [Ballard], like anybody we’ve lost to this point, makes you sick. Injuries are part of this game. We all understand that. We know that. But it will be next man up,” Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano said Wednesday.

“Like the others, we feel for him, but [Allen] will go and get it taken care of, rehab and be back for the offseason program in 2014.”

The decision to sit the second-year tight end from Clemson came somewhat as a surprise.

“We were all hoping that it would be something that with time and with rest, he would come around. [Allen] is a tough, tough, tough kid,” Pagano explained.

“Playing through the foot injury [for example]. But once we got the [hip] evaluated, we saw exactly what the doctors saw in there and what needed to be done. For the long term and the big picture, it’s the right thing to do right now.”

Ballard will be replaced by running back Ahmad Bradshaw. Offensive guards Joe Reitz or rookie Hugh Thornton will take over for Thomas.  And second-year tight end Coby Fleener will now get the bulk of the work instead of splitting time with Allen.

Dominique Jones and recently signed Jack Doyle should rotate as Fleener’s primary backups. Rookie Justice Cunningham, who is currently on the practice squad, may be elevated to the active roster as well.

“We’re going to do whatever we have to do that gives us the best chance to win [Sunday],” the Colts coach said.

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